Science & Technology
Agriculture Secretary Announces Funding to Improve Broadband Service for Rural Customers in Four States PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Friday, 20 September 2013 15:25

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Vilsack today announced loans to help finance the construction of broadband networks in rural Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and South Dakota. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

"Rural Americans need full access high-speed telecommunications services," Vilsack said. "Broadband allows rural communities to tap into critical health care and social services systems. It also helps even the playing field in education, and gives small-town businesses a chance to compete globally. As part of the Obama Administration's goal to improve infrastructure, we will continue to fund projects that expand broadband service in rural areas."

Today's funding announcement will provide almost $40 million from USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to install fiber networks to improve telecommunications capability in the three recipients' service areas. USDA's Telecommunications Loan Program finances infrastructure that enables access to a seamless, nationwide telecommunications network.

The following recipients have been selected to receive telecommunications loan financing. The funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan agreements.

Iowa

  • Keystone-Farmers Cooperative Telephone Company will receive a $7.6 million loan to upgrade its plant and complete a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to help meet the current and future data needs of its customers in Benton and Tama counties.

Oregon

  • Colton Telephone Company will receive a $7.3 million loan to complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers.

South Dakota and Minnesota

  • Interstate Telecommunications Company, Inc. will receive a $24.9 million loan to upgrade its plant and complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers.

Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has funded 557 projects in 48 states through $6.1 billion in telecommunications loan financing. Secretary Vilsack noted that today's funding announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy - and he said that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.

President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way - strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users)


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What They’re Saying: Connect Every Iowan initiative drawing wide praise PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Tim Albrecht   
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 14:56

(DES MOINES) – The Connect Every Iowan initiative is drawing wide praise following this morning’s announcement by Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. The following are statements put forth by organizations representing thousands of Iowans across the state:

Iowa Telecommunications Association:

Dave Duncan, President of the Iowa Telecommunications Association (ITA), said "Governor Branstad’s announcement today rings so close to the guiding principles our association has promoted over the past four years – that we need ‘broadband for all Iowans.’

“Broadband connectivity is an essential service when you are looking to advance Iowa's economic growth opportunities,” Duncan said.  “Whether you are a small business looking to connect to customers around the world, a farmer checking global markets, or a student doing homework, you cannot afford to be without high-speed broadband internet access.”

Rural Iowa Independent Telephone Association:

The Rural Iowa Independent Telephone Association (RIITA) announced its support for Governor Terry Brandstad’s initiative today, “Connect Every Iowan” and efforts to increase the access, adoption and use of broadband technology.

“Iowa has a unique position in that our state has the most Independent Telecommunication Companies (ITCs) in the country. Over 140 companies have been instrumental in deploying broadband and working with their communities relating to the adoption and use of this technology,” noted Sheila Navis, RIITA Executive Director.

CenturyLink:

“CenturyLink appreciates the efforts of Governor Branstad to further strengthen Iowa’s broadband climate, which will ultimately grow Iowa’s economy and enhance educational opportunities. We look forward to working with all stakeholders and policymakers to increase broadband adoption and access.”

Technology Association of Iowa:

“Access to larger bandwidth is essential to connect Iowans to each other and for businesses to connect to Iowa customers. TAI will engage in the process that Governor Branstad has established and will work with the legislature to put in place policies that make sense for Iowans.”

 

Heartland Technology Alliance:

 

The following statement is attributable to Heartland Technology Alliance Executive Director John Stineman:

"The Heartland Technology Alliance is excited to learn of Governor Branstad's 'Connect Every Iowan' initiative.  Broadband connectivity, adoption and deployment can be a game changer for the Midwest.  Whether Iowa's metros or rural areas, broadband helps us compete with the world.  We are hopeful the STEM Advisory Council's Broadband Committee examines not only the issues of adoption and connectivity, but the regulatory environment Iowa ought to pursue in order to attract private sector investment in broadband deployment in all forms across the State.  The Heartland Technology Alliance looks forward to being an active participant in these important discussions and appreciates Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds’ leadership in this critical area."

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Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds announce Connect Every Iowan broadband initiative PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Tim Albrecht   
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 12:40

STEM Committee charged with developing legislative recommendations, strategic plan

 

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today unveiled their new “Connect Every Iowan” initiative to increase the access, adoption, and use of broadband technology.

The governor and lt. governor have asked the existing STEM Advisory Council’s Broadband Committee to develop legislative recommendations to encourage broadband build-out throughout Iowa, particularly in unserved or underserved areas.  The committee’s first meeting will be Sept. 10, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., at the ICN Conference Room on the 2nd floor of the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Its recommendations are expected to be delivered by December 1, 2013.

The committee has also been asked to develop a long-term strategic plan for broadband by January 1, 2015, and to identify and pursue any possible federal funding opportunities or public private partnerships.

“We want to make Iowa the most connected state in the Midwest,” said Branstad.

Currently Iowa ranks 11th out of 12 Midwestern states on the TechNet State Broadband Index, behind neighboring states such as Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri and Illinois. The index is compiled from three measures: The household adoption rate of broadband, network speeds of available broadband infrastructure, and the amount of jobs in information and communication technology industries that benefit from broadband technology.

“I’m confident Iowans all across the state will benefit from the initiative – most importantly, more broadband access means more jobs for Iowans,” said Branstad.

According to a study conducted by the Brookings Institute, for every one percentage point increase in broadband technology penetration into a state, employment is projected to increase by 0.2 to 0.3 percent per year.

“We need to make sure rural Iowa has the tools to stay connected, because connectivity is the great equalizer,” said Reynolds. “Connectivity will allow us to preserve rural Iowa, while keeping us competitive with other states for economic development projects. We believe every Iowan – from students, to small business owners, to rural health care providers, to public safety officers – can benefit from this initiative to increase the access, adoption, and use of broadband technology.”

The STEM Advisory Council’s Broadband Committee will be co-chaired by John Carver, Superintendent of Howard-Winneshiek Community School District, and Robert von Wolffradt, the State Chief Information Officer.  Administrative support and technical expertise will be provided by Amy Kuhlers of Connect Iowa, a non-profit organization which is working in partnership with the Iowa Economic Development Authority to ensure that all can experience the benefits of broadband.t

Members of the STEM Advisory Council’s Broadband Committee:

Co-Chair John Carver, Superintendent, Howard-Winneshiek Community School District

Co-Chair Robert von Wolffradt, Chief Information Officer, State of Iowa

Amy Kuhlers, Program Manager, Connect Iowa

Robert Denson, President, Des Moines Area Community College

Dave Duncan, President, Iowa Telecommunication Association

Philip Groner, Iowa Communication Network

Karl Hehr, Director of Technology Services, Ames Community Schools District

Galen Howsare, Chief Financial Officer, Iowa Association of School Boards

Karen Randall, Keystone Area Education Association

Michael Sadler, Assistant VP for Public Policy & Government Relations

Larry Siegel, Iowa School Finance and Information System Services

Jeff Weld, Executive Director, Governor’s STEM Advisory Council

Josh Byrnes, State Representative, District 14

 

For more information:

http://Governor.Iowa.Gov/Connect

 
Governor’s office releases appointments made to Governor’s STEM Advisory Council PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Friday, 30 August 2013 12:26

(DES MOINES) – The governor’s office today released a list of appointments to the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.  All appointments will take effect September 1, 2013.

Kacia Cain, Indianola

John Carver, Cresco

Jordan Cohen, Iowa City

Robert Denson, Ankeny

Ryan Drew, Burlington

Mary Beth Hockstedler, Iowa City

AnnElyse Howard, Clive

Jordan Lampe, Sausalito, Calif.

Valerie Newhouse, Emmetsburg

Robert “Kelly” Ortberg, Cedar Rapids

Mark Putnam, Pella

Macenzie Rubin, Ankeny

Johnathan Wickert, Ames

Gail Wortmann, Bloomfield

Isa Zimmerman, Boston, Mass.

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Governor Quinn Announces $1.5 Million to Build Ultra High Speed Broadband Network in Southern Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Brooke Anderson   
Tuesday, 27 August 2013 09:03

State Investment in Innovation and Cutting Edge Jobs will Fuel Economic Growth

CARBONDALE - Governor Pat Quinn today announced an investment of $1.5 million to build an ultra high speed broadband network in Southern Illinois. The partnership between Frontier North, Inc., the City of Carbondale, Southern Illinois University and Connect SI will use the funding to build a gigabit network that will serve residents, businesses and institutions in Southern Illinois. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to drive economic growth and create jobs across Illinois.

“Ultra high-speed internet access is a key to success for the future of Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “In order to remain competitive in today’s digital society, Illinois must have broadband infrastructure second to none.”

The $1.5 million investment – supported by the Governor’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program – provides funding for Frontier to build a high-speed fiber optic network to Carbondale’s businesses, schools, hospitals and neighborhoods. The gigabit broadband, up to 100 times faster than speeds currently available, will help recruit new business to the region and enable Southern Illinois University’s scholars, innovators and entrepreneurs to connect globally. Capabilities for telemedicine and telehealth through the University’s School of Medicine will also impact citizens in underserved areas in Southern Illinois and allow for faster transmission of medical records and vital information.

"The best part of the Governor's grant is that it isn't about fiber optics and lasers; it is about a world class community network built to drive jobs and new opportunities for  Carbondale and the region,” Frontier Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Flynn said. “Frontier Communications couldn't be more proud to be a part of this community effort as we work every day to provide advancing broadband services across all of Southern Illinois."

“Southern Illinois has a long history as a leader in broadband,” Broadband Illinois Interim Executive Director Brad Housewright said. “Through the efforts of Connect SI, Frontier and stakeholders from business and industry, we’re excited to build a public-private partnership around this initiative.”

Governor Quinn was also joined today by top executives and employees from Clearwave Communications, a Harrisburg company that just completed another high-speed connectivity project in Southern Illinois. The project used $11.3 million in state funds, as well as federal and private dollars, to install 751 miles of fiber in 23 counties connecting 232 community anchor institutions.

Governor Quinn has invested more than $71 million in broadband infrastructure throughout the state as part of his Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. This investment has leveraged more than $214 million in additional funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Through these projects, more than 3,000 miles of fiber optic cable has been installed, with more to come.

Today’s Carbondale announcement represents the fourth major Gigabit Communities Challenge broadband infrastructure project announced since Governor Quinn took office in 2009. Supported by the Governor’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program, the Illinois Gigabit Communities Challenge sought proposals from private and public organizations to encourage promising ultra high-speed broadband deployment projects throughout Illinois. Each project must connect at least 1,000 end users to Gigabit broadband speeds.

For more information, visit www.Gigabit.Illinois.Gov

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